Jason Grilli grabbed two mementos from his first save as the Pirates closer -- the lineup card posted in the dugout and the ball used for the final out.
They forever will symbolize the night Grilli, 36, pitched a 1-2-3 inning, preserving a 3-0 victory Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs.
The lineup card likely will land in a frame somewhere in Grilli's Orlando, Fla., home. He gave the ball to his father, who has waited even longer for a Grilli to be a major league closer.
"That kind of brought some tears to the eyes ... " said Steve Grilli, a former major league reliever. "I can appreciate where he's been, what he's done, what he's accomplished probably as good as anybody."
Steve Grilli dreamed of being a closer in the majors, and, as a minor league pitcher, he appeared well on his way. He compiled more than two dozen saves in Class AAA and posted a career 3.33 ERA in nine minor league seasons.
He played parts of four seasons in the majors, three with the Detroit Tigers and one with the Toronto Blue Jays. And, while he finished 40 games, only a few were save situations. The Tigers had John Hiller as their closer, and Steve Grilli made just one appearance for the Blue Jays.
"Nobody ever gave me the closer's role, and yet at Triple-A, you can look up the numbers, I was really good at Triple-A as the closer," he said. "I dreamed of having that role some day in the big leagues. But it never happened."
So he is soaking in all he can this season as his son, after a career filled with disappointments and injuries, steps into that pivotal role. Steve Grilli was in town for the opening series against the Chicago Cubs and plans to make several more trips this year from Syracuse, N.Y., to see his son pitch in the role the elder Grilli coveted.
Jason Grilli was the San Francisco Giants' first-round draft pick in 1997. He was pegged as a starting pitcher, but never developed into a successful one.
The younger Grilli also has battled serious injuries in his career, missing one year after Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and missed another after surgery to repair a major injury to his right quad.
It has been a journey, Grilli said, that has taken him down a lot of side roads.
"Gravel roads," Steve Grilli said his son calls them.
"It's something I know my dad's always said he wanted to do in his career, and I'm doing it at the big league level," Jason Grilli said.
"It's taken everything that I've done prior to today to get to this point. I always thought I was capable of doing it. I just finally got the chance."
McCutchen on the run
The biggest hole in Andrew McCutchen's game thus far has been his inability to turn his speed into a weapon on the bases.
But, in his first three games this year, McCutchen has four stolen bases, including the 100th of his career Wednesday night. He became the 29th player to steal at least 100 bases as a Pirate.
Two of his early season steals were made possible by subpar throws from the catcher.
"It's been very encouraging, just watching him look for leads and look for pitches," manager Clint Hurdle said. "I'm very encouraged by what I'm seeing there."
Time to hit the road
The Pirates begin their first road trip this season today, starting a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Pirates went 0-3 at Dodger Stadium and have lost six consecutive games there. Since September 2006, the Pirates are 4-16 in Los Angeles.
Michael Sanserino: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1722 or on Twitter @msanserino.